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tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 9, 2009 4:00pm-4:30pm EDT

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people knowing what danger and harm it causes. 400,000 of our fellow citizens die of smoke-related ills ins -- 400,000 people, more than those would lose their lives as a result of automobile accidents, of aids, of alcohol abuse, illegal drug abuse, violent crimes with guns. all of those combined do not equal the number of deaths that occur because of people's use of tobacco products. that does not include, mr. president, the number of people who lead very debilitating lives, who are stricken with emphysema. i apologize to my colleagues for continuing to recite these numbers but i pray and hope these numbers may have some impact on those would wonder if
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every aspect of this bill makes the most sense or not. none of us should ever claim perfection but it is, it seems to me, after all of this time, with all of the consideration, with 1,000 organizes, faith-based, state organizations, leading organizations dealing with lung cancer and related problems, have all spoken with one voice. and that is, pass this bill. pass this bill. allow, finally, for the food and drug administration to be able to control the marketing, the selling, and the production of these tobacco products. absent any action by this congress more than six million children alive today will die from smoking. one out of five young people in my little state of connecticut, a small state, smoke today. 76,000 children in connecticut, we're told by the health care
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proceedings will die prematurely because of their addiction to tobacco; 76,000. as i mentioned earlier we're on the eve of passing major health karen reforhealthcare reform le. the centerpiece is prevention. that's the one piece there's a great deal of unanimity about. how could we deal with health care reform? the best way to treat the disease is that it never happen in the first place. this bill we're talking about may do more in the area of prevention if it is adopted than anything else we may include in the health care bill. at least in the short-term. the estimates are that as much as 11% to 12% of young people could not begin the habit of smoking if this bill is adopted. imagine 11% or 12% young people not smoking of that 3,000 or 4,000 every day that start. that in itself would be a major, major achievement. my friend from north carolina,
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senator burr, does in the give authority to the f.d.a. the f.d.a. is 100 years old. it creates a completely, on his bill, a completely new agency, a new and untested acknowledge to oversee tobacco products. the food and drug administration is the right agency, mr. president, because it's the only agency that regulates, has the regulatory experience, the scientific experience, and the combination of that with the public health mission. unlike the kennedy bill, which is the underlying bill we're dealing with here, senator burr's substitute fails to provide adequate resources to do the job, as well. in the first three years, senator burr's substitute would be adopted, unquarter of the funding that is allocated in senator kennedy's proposal of the underlying bill. in addition, the burr substitute provides far less authority to remove harmful ingredients in cigarettes that the weapon difficult bill would do -- that the kennedy bill would do.
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it does not go far enough to protect children from marketing and has less effective health warnings. i say respectfully to my friend from north carolina, the setting up or creating a whole new age, providing a fraction of the funding necessary to get it done, and providing the inadequate resources in order to support these efforts is not the step we ought to be taking. if all of us agree that the food and drug administration basically, the agency we charge with responsibility of regulating everything we consume and ingest including those ingested by our pets -- the food and drug administration has control over pet food, cat and dog food but not for the tobacco. so your child's safety is less protected than the household pet. that needs to change. we have debated this for a decade and now have come down to
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a moment whether or not this congress, in a bipartisan fashion, as we did yesterday, will say "enough is enough." we've come to the end of this debate, 400,000 people losing their lives, 3,000 to 4,000 people starting to smoke, and 1,000 will be addicted for life and half that number will die because of the use of these products. that is over with. and the marketing, the production, as well as the selling of these products has to come to an end. this is the best way to save money if you are not impressed with the ethics of the issue. this is a self-inflicted wound we impose on ourselves as a country, knowing the damage it causes, and the hardship and horror and sorrow it brings to families. i don't know of a single person who smokes, mr. president, that wants their child to begin that habit. if they could stand here, collectively, the families across this country who are smokers, they would say with one
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voice: pass this bill. please do everything you can to see to it that my child doesn't begin a habit. 90% of smokers started as kids. we know that. we need to change how we regulate the products. that is what the underlying bill does. it has had tremendous support from our friends, both republicans and democrats over the years. we have just never done it together and we are on the brink of doing it together and, i think, making a significant change in our country for the better. it's long overdue. so respectfully when the vote occurs on the burr amendment i urge my colleagues to vote against our friends' amendment from north carolina. i respect him. i want to do everything i can, in fact, our underlying bill does make a difference in providing real help to those farmers. i see my good friend from kentucky and he knows i went to law school in kentucky so i have an affection for people in that state because their living depends on the issue and we need
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to provide them help. uand our underlying bill does that. i know what it means to have an industry facing these challenges but, clearly, the clal t challeo our nation to reduce the number of children who smo enan smoke o save lives. i urge our colleagues to reject the burr amendment. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, the distinguished ranking member of the judiciary committee, senator sessions, senator kyl and i are going to take a few moments here to discuss the pending supreme court nomination and the proceedings leading up to that. i've notified the democratic floor staff that it might slightliedly the 4:20 vote. i find that not objectionable on the other side. so i would just inform our colleagues that we're going to proceed here as if in morning
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business and i ask consent we proceed as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. mcconnell: it will not cause much of a delay, if any, on the 4:20 vote i announce to our colleagues. senator sessions is up and will be the first speaker. signature session mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: mr. president, i thank senator mcconnell for his leadership in so many ways but particularly his concern that he has shown repeatedly on the united states judiciary. he's a member of the judiciary committee and he takes these issues seriously and i think it's important that we all do so. i have to say i'm disappointed this morning that we learned from media reports -- i did -- that the chairman of the judiciary committee, senator leahy, announced we would begin the hearings july 13 on judge
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sotomayor. i believe that's too early. i don't believe it's necessary. it's far more important we do this matter right than we do it quick. when the announcement was made president obama said that the time we should look to is october 1 when the new supreme court term starts. and i think that always was an achievable goal something i said i believe we could achieve and do in a right way. so the question is, can we get all this done in this rush-rush fashion? it will be the shortest confirmation time of any recent nominee. it is a time well shorter than that of justice roberts, now chief justice roberts. and we had a need to move that a bit because he was confirmed, as it turned out, sent 29, a couple of days before the new term began. and home was going to be chief justice. but the last nominee, whose record was much like this
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nominee, justice alito, was coming up in late -- in december -- and the democratic leader then on the judiciary committee, senator leahy, asked that it be put off until after christmas. and the republican chairman at that time, senator specter, despite president bush's desire it move forward, he said, no, i think that's a reasonable request and we put it off. there was some 90-some-odd days before that confirmation occurred and well over 70 days before the hearings began. i just want to say, mr. president, first and for foremost we are committed to a fair and just hearings but we need to examine the record of 3,500 probably more than 4,000 cases. in addition she has given a lot
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of speeches and written law review articles and those need to be analyzed because make no mistake about it, this is the only time, the only opportunity, this congress and this the american people have, to play a role in what would town ou turno be a lifetime appointment, a federal bench of independence and unaccountability for the rest of their life. so i think it is important we do this thing and we do it right. i thank senator mcconnell for his leadership in insisting we do it right. i believe from what we know today the timeframe that is set forth is unrealistic. more than that, it's not necessary. let's do this right. take our time. and do it in a way that i hope, as i've said repeatedly, this would be what people could say is the finest confirmation process we've ever had. i thank the chair.
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i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: i just want to thank my good friend from alabama for his observations about this nomination. he and i have been involved in a number of these confirmation proceedings over the years. there is, i think, in every one of then, a sense of fairness that can be reached on a bipartisan basis so that the nominee is adequately vetted appropriately and that is what the senator from alabama is looking here as we go forward on the judiciary committee. i was surprised to learn that the majority had decided unilaterally, basically, that the schedule would involve hearings beginning on that specific day, july 13, that senator sessions referred to. during the senate's considerations of both the roberts and alito nominations, we her a lot from our democratic
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colleagues about how the senate was not a rubber stamp. not a rubber stamp. and about how it was more important to do it right than to do it fast. now, if that a standard, i would suggest to our colleagues just a few years ago, why would it not be a go standard today? if that was the standard when the republicans were in the majority in the senate why would it not be a standard weapon thee democrats are in the majority. we're talking about the same supreme court, we're talking about the same lifetime appointments that senator sessions was referring to. the chairman of the judiciary committee today said back then we need to consider this nop nation anomination as thoroughld carefully as the american people deserve. it's going to take time. that was senator leahy then. he also said it makes sense that we take time to do it right. i think the american people deserve nothing less.
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and he also said we want to do it right and we don't want to do it fast of thit fast. if that was the standard who years ago when the republicans in the majority i don't know why it isn't the standard today. i don't know what our friends on the majority are fearful of. this nominee certainly has already been confirmed by the senate twice, she has an extensive record which is the reason why it takes a while to go through 3,600 cases. in the case of the chief justice, there were only 327 cases. he had only been on the district, the circuit court for a couple of years. she's been on one court or another for 17 years. it's just a larger record. i am competent and our ranking member, senator sessions confirms that the staff is working rapidly to try to work
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their way new this lengthy number of cases. but a way to look at it, mr. president, the committee had to review an average of six cases per day in order to be prepared for judge roberts' hearings. six cases a day. the committee will now have to review an average of 76 cases -- 76 cases -- per day in order to be ready by the time the majority has proposed for the sotomayor hearing. the senate, mr. president, functions on comity and cooperation, and the majority leader and i are a big part of that every day, trying to respect each other's needs and try to make the senate function appropriately. here the democratic majority is proceeding, in my view, in a heavy-handed fashion, completely unnecessary, and is basically being dismissive of the minority's legitimate concerns for a fair and thorough process.
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there's no point in this. it serves no purpose other than to run the risk of destroying the kind of comity and cooperation that we expect of each other here in the senate, all of which was granted in the case of chief justice roberts and justice alito. so let me be clear, mr. president, because of what our democratic colleagues are doing and the way they are doing it, it will now be much more difficult to achieve the kind of comity and cooperation on this and other matters that we need and expect around here as we try to deal with the nation's business. i would hope they'd reconsider their decision and work with us on a bipartisan basis to allow a thorough review of this lengthy, lengthy record that the nominee possesses. mr. president, i yield the floor.
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mr. kyl: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. kyl: i'd like to join the ranking member of the committee on which i sit, as well as the distinguished minority leader in asking the question of why we have to set a date right now on the hearing for judge sotomayor? there's no reason for us to do that because there's no way to know at this point whether we'll have our work done by that time. and historically -- and it's for good reason -- you want to have the review completed before you question the witness about the matters under review. that makes sense. so there's no reason to set that date today, and that is troublesome. we just don't know whether we'll be ready by the 13th or not, but there's a lot of history that suggests it's going to be very difficult to be ready at that time. the leader has just pointed out the fact that if you compare the work that was required to consider the nomination of the now-chief justice john roberts as opposed to this nominee, you've got more than ten times as many cases to look at with
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judge sotomayor as you had with justice roberts. that takes a lot of time. and even with 20-some staffers reading these 4,000-plus decisions, it's not just a matter of reading the cases. it's a matter of then looking to see what the precedence cited were to determine whether or not you think the judge was right in the decision that was rendered, to look at the other references in the case to see how closely this followed the existing law and whether it appears the judge might be trying to make law as opposed to deciding law. that's important in this particular case because of the standard that the president has laid down for his nominees which strongly suggests something beyond deciding the law. in 5% of the cases, as he said, there's no precedent, no legal mechanism for deciding how the case should come out. you have to base it on other factors. everybody is well aware of some of the factors that this particular nominee has talked about. and the president has talked about. the empathy, the background, the
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experience in other matters. so the question is: in reading these opinions, do you find a trend of deciding cases on something other than the law? potentially the making of law in this particular case. and even if, as the leader said, you have to review 76 cases a day, that is just the decisions that she has participated in or the opinions that she has written or joined in. about the other writings, her law review writings, the speeches she's given, the f.b.i. report, the a.b.a. report which we do not have, the questionnaire which has not been completed. a variety of things which have to be reviewed and read and then you discuss the nomination with witnesses to say this matter has been raised, this matter has been raised. what do you think about that? she will have a sraoeurt of people writing to the committee on -- a variety of people writing to the committee on her behalf. we will have reams of letters and comments from people who think she is a good nominee and
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we will receive a lot of comments, i suspect, from people who think she's not a good nominee. we need to go through all of that. when people write to us about these nominees for or against, we don't just ignore what they say. we take it to heart. that's part of our job. all of this takes a great deal of time and effort. the final point here, mr. president, we don't just want to leave this to staff. we're going to read those opinions. i have instructed my staff on the opinions that i want to read. i'm used to reading court opinions, but not everybody has done that fairly recently in their career, and that takes a lot of time as well considering all the other work we have to do. so to do this right, to conduct the kind of fair and thorough hearing that senator sessions talked about, and to follow the kind of precedents and tradition that the minority leader talked about here, i think it's important for us to do it right to get it right, to take the time that that requires, and if that means going skwropbd july 13, then do that. -- beyond july 13.
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senator specter worked in a bipartisan way with senator leahy. senator leahy can work in a bipartisan way with us to ensure there is an adequate amount of time. at the end of the day what we want here is a hearing that everyone can say was fair, was thorough, resulted in a good decision and hopefully and presumably would allow this nominee, if she's confirmed, to take her position prior not beginning of the october term. justice roberts was confirmed, i believe, on the 29th of september, and that was four days ahead of the time i think he needed -- or two days. the court reconvenes on october 5. and, therefore, i see no reason why to do this right we can't have the nominee, if this nominee is confirmed, confirmed by the time that the october term begins. so i say to my colleagues, let's do this right and not try to push things beyond the point that is appropriate under the circumstances. the presiding officer: the senator from alabama.
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mr. sessions: i thank senator kyl for his leadership on this committee. he's one of the senate's great lawyers. i appreciate his insights, as we all do. i would just note i think this rush is ill-advised. in truth, the white house was determined to get the nominee's questionnaire to the senate in a hurry, and there are a number of cameras and crews and press releases that went out when boxes were delivered. but in many ways the questionnaire was incomplete. the result, i think, of that kind of rush. the nominee failed to provide sufficient details that were required by the questionnaire. for example, the judge did not include her troubling recommendation to the puerto rican appeal defense fund to lobby against a new york state law that would have reinstated the death penalty. and it had quite a bit of intemperate rhetoric in it. after that was noted, she
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admitted she failed to and got that document in. but i suggest perhaps if somebody hadn't been aware of that omission, maybe we would not have received that document at all. what else might she have failed to include that might be an important bit of information as our committee does its oversight work? in addition, the nominee was supposed to provide opinions and filings for cases going to verdict, judgment or final decision, or three cases she indicates that the district attorney's office is searching for records and she did not provide those. in 14 cases, she admitted -- noted that she tried. the record is incomplete and not provided there. so we don't have any document related to these cases. as another example, the nominee is supposed to list speeches, remarks, and lectures she gave in the absence -- and in the absence of having a prepared
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text, to provide outlines, notes, and then a summary of the subject matter. several of the entries lack any subject matter descriptions or are so vague as to be utterly uninformative, including these quotes i just note from the record. and we've had some problems with her speeches. a lot of speeches she notes she's given she has no text for. but i would just note this is on her questionnaire. i spoke on the second circuit employment discrimination cases -- close quote. didn't indicate what or give any summary of that. another one -- quote -- "i spoke at the federal externship class on access to judgment, close quote. no indication of what that was and no summary. certainly no text. -- quote -- "i participated in a panel entitled sexual harassment how to practice safe
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employment." no explanation. next -- quote -- "i spoke on the united states judicial system." next, i spoke on the topic of lawyering for social justice. close quote. i discussed my life experiences and the role of minority bar organizations, close quote. i participated in a symposium on post conviction relief. i spoke on the execution of judgments of conviction. i spoke on the implementation of the hague convention in the united states and abroad, close quote. -- quote -- "i praised in a discussion on sentencing -- i participated in a discussion on sentencing guidelines. i praise pra*euted in a round table discussion and reception on the art of judging at this event. that would be nice to note what she thought about the art of judging. i contributed to the panel, the future of judicial review, the view from the bench at the 2004 national convention of the --
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where the official theme was liberty and equality of the 21st century. that's some of the things that are there that i think are inadequate responses to the questionnaire's requirements. this questionnaire is one we use for nominees of both parties for a number of years. so the chairman justifies our rushed schedule because of the need, he says, to allow the nominee to respond to unfair criticism of her record. but the chairman and all our democratic colleagues know that the republican senators who will actually be voting on this nominee, i am confident and certain have been nothing but extremely fair and courteous and respectful of the nominee, even when she made mistakes like omitting several things from her questionnaire, we haven't criticized her for that. so in return for this courtesy, i'm disappointed that we are being rushed to complete this process at a time, based on what
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i know now, is not a wise approach. so i don't think it's a good way to begin the proceedings. i look forward to working with my colleagues on this date. perhaps we can do better as we move forward. it is an important process. it's the public's only opportunity to understand what this is about, and i think we ought to do it right. as senator leahy has said. and not rush it. i thank the chair and would yield the floor. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the call of the quorum be terminated. the presiding officer: woubg. mr. reid: mr. president, let me say a few words regarding the excellent work of the judiciary committee, the work that has been done by chairman leahy. and he has informed me that senator sessions has been most cooperative during the entire time that senator sessions has had this new assignment. senator mcconnell asked me one day last week to delay a floor vote until after the august recess on judge sotomayor. and he sent me a letter which i was happy to receive making his case for this delay.
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i indicated to him this morning that -- to him, senator mcconnell -- that i had a telephone call scheduled with the chairman of the judiciary committee and the president to go over the content of skphapbl's well-written -- of senator mcconnell's well-written letter. we had quite a long conversation with the president. the time, i don't know, 15 minutes, 30 minutes. it was certainly enough to learn very quickly that the president really was well versed on this nomination. after having spoken to the president and the chairman of the committee this morning, i have had an obligation to convey to senator mcconnell my conclusion based on my conversation with the president. and what i'd like to do now, mr. president, is just read into the record a letter that i delivered this morning, or had

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